what to wear

For several years now I’ve been contemplating a number of fashion photos from Vogue. First off look at the hair on this model. Only love and a genius at the trade can get it that big! I keep trying to tone down my hair but it gets whipped around by weather! Another reason global warming is a bad idea.

Perhaps it’s time for a make over. New years wish, a good stylist so I get to look like the woman I imagine myself to be.

It’s no big confession I’ve been contemplating this for awhile. I actually have a book of fashion clippings…this is not some evolved form of paper dolls its more like doodling in the high school year book and drawing on top of what I need to change to fit my particular reality, yearnings, and preoccupations. I’m a gardener to the bone, obviously, and this has presented itself as a problem. I seem to want a little digging in the dirt, pruning plants, or moving materials between getting coffee with friends, volunteering at the conservatory, or having a meeting with clients. The wardrobe that can do all this is what I want. Our city does do the casual thing, say wearing a fleece or a Patagonia jacket and jeans to an art opening, a sort of cool zen shorthand for a way of life in the northwest. Yet in my version of living, where I support the arts, my business, and non governmental organizations dressing down doesn’t speak to the kind of effort I like to make. For me creative moments are everywhere – our world is tumbling and twittering with new ways of seeing and doing and yet I find inspiration for how to dress farther back. Ironically the country gentleman has become my style icon, durable pieces that can be dressed up with earrings. It must have started at the Gentlemen’s Consignment years ago when I first chose items for my brother and quickly figured out that I couldn’t beat the prices for a size small cashmere sweater anywhere.

Shoes of course become the biggest issue, even if I found something I liked, men’s feet were usually bigger. And I can hardly toter around in heals while working, let’s be real. In nearly 20 years of shopping the shoe was always an issue. The best is maybe a Blundstone but the support isn’t great. Clogs slip on and off easily but are difficult on uneven ground. I just returned two pairs of well crafted men’s work shoes to an department store because no matter how many pairs of socks got piled on feet still slipped around and I’d bought the smallest size they carried! What’s a girl to do? One of my favorite actresses said that when developing her character the first thing she always imagines are the shoes, the rest follows. Certainly we can look attractive while doing what we love. They say Winston Churchhill’s mother broke her ankle while descending some stairs in heels, no thank you.  I think Coco Chanel understood the conundrum facing women at the time. She wanted the good life and wasn’t born into it so she fashioned it for herself. I think of her whenever I’m at the thrift store choosing items. She started her carrier in fashion by cutting and snipping her boy friends clothes. Later on she even created fabrics based on knits for underwear that helped define a suit for women that was flattering and comfortable. Imagine our world without the womens’ suit! La!

What about these pants above. Notice the three little button’s at the ankle, helping to secure volumes of comfort. Sigh. The problem with skinny jeans is they don’t leave much room for changes.  I’ve decided a pair of these, and a warm skirt are a womanly necessity. Keeping the feet covered and warm is of equal importance. I’m glad lined boots are spreading far and wide, like a women’s right to vote.

My ideal winter boot would probably be something sleek like a Hunter boot and lined and accessible like something by Sorel, waterproof on bottom and leather on top, easy to clean. In the mean time the tennis shoe with the slightly raised heal is always what I revert to for comfort, stick that into the soul and I’d be off and running. Now what in gods name does any of this have to do with pictures of persian sets designs? The French are one of many cultures to have had a long romance with this style of architecture. And it’s on a stage like this I can almost imagine the author Isabelle Eberhardt walking by with a book in hand. Born Swiss, a country that speaks at least three languages in as many regions, Miss Eberhardt seemed to transition easily when her family relocated to the Mediterranean near Istanbul. Once there her own fashion sense started to transform according to what allowed her freedom. Later separated from her family she traveled the landscapes of North Africa fully dressed in the flowing robes traditional to men of the region.

Taking a mans name she assumed the life she had always dreamed of for herself, eventually even finding a loving companion despite her disguise. She wrote some works that are haunting in how contemporary they feel. I have to remind myself that she was writing at a time when women still didn’t have their own bank accounts, names, legal recourse, or vote. Odd clothing choices or not, this pails in light of the freedom of thought she created for herself making her style quietly seductive to many women besides myself… I may have tamer aspirations as a gardener, after all I’m only trying to navigate between the urban and the wild, but I’d still like the right shoes.



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